Tuesday, January 16, 2007


At DCP, between fall and spring semesters, we have a period of time called intersession. It originally started as a time for students failing math and English to take a two-week mandatory review course, with a chance to retake the final at the end (getting an 85% would change the F to a C-). There are four periods a day, so the rest of the time is filled with fun and/or academic classes invented by the staff. Since then, we have dropped both the mandatory requirement and the chance to pass by retaking finals. We now sell the review classes as "a chance to catch up on the skills you missed, so that you can start strong in the spring semester". Plus, there is no homework. Surprisingly, most of the students who should sign up for these classes do sign up. We normally have a rotating 6-period block schedule, but these two weeks, we meet all 4 periods (rather 3, as most of us have a prep period) everyday. No grades, no homework, just a focus on learning and fun.

Here is my schedule:

1st: Slam Poetry
I think performance poetry is pretty cool to listen to - when it's good. When it's not good, it can cause quite a cringe factor. I'm going to help the students develop their creative writing abilities, as well as getting them more comfortable standing up, speaking, and showing emotions in front of a group. What's my qualification for this? None! That's why intersession is so fun; i'll learn along with the students. Today, we were working on emotions. I gave groups a quote from that timeless classic "Mean Girls", and they had to brainstorm a variety of emotions, and then say the quote steeped in one of those emotions. The rest of the group had to guess which emotion was being, well, emoted. The best moment came right at the end of class when one of the students (whose emotion was "seductive") got up on the table, lounging one one elbow, and did a PG-rated (thankfully) seduction scene. The hardest part with this kind of thing is getting students to feel comfortable enough with each other to be themselves, and today was a pretty good start. Now, I need to look up more theater games and good writing prompts...

2nd: Algebra 2 Honors
I have required my class to meet through intersession . If they want to accelerate, they have to make some sacrifices after all. For them, the new semester starts today, along with homework, quizzes, and tests. They're not thrilled, but they're being good sports about it so far.

3rd: English 1
Yes, I am teaching one section of the English 1 review class for the freshmen (thought it's planned by one of the English 1 teachers). It's a small class of 15, and we will be working on the foundational stuff that they still need help with. It's a nice change from teaching math, but I don't think I could handle it long term. Initially, I thought I would be an English teacher, but after doing some subbing in English 1 classes, I realized it wasn't for me! I love reading and talking about literature, but that doesn't happen with our students until much later on. At the beginning, it's all topic sentences, capitalization, and subject-verb agreement.

Today, we were working on "glue words" such as "since", "because", "if", and "while" that can be used to combine simple sentences into more complex ones. Trying to get away from the "I like soccer. Soccer is fun." pattern of early writers.

4th: Prep
That's right now! Time to get back to work... gotta plan Slam and Algebra for tomorrow.

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